Tory party

Portrait of the week: Lee Anderson defects, Ireland rejects and Kate photoshops

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said that Britain needed to build new gas-fired power stations to ensure energy security. GDP grew by 0.2 per cent in January. The number of people of working age classed as economically inactive rose to 9.25 million, compared with 8.55 million in February 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics. Among those aged 16 to 34, economic inactivity was rising; among those aged 35 to 64 it had fallen. Long-term sickness accounted for 2.7 million people not in work, 600,000 more than four years ago. The National Health Service employed more than two million for the first time, more than a third of public-sector workers.

Why Liz Truss had to go

The Liz Truss survival plan was, in the end, unworkable. She not only hired her enemies – Grant Shapps and Jeremy Hunt – but let them govern: tearing up her policies, while she held on in No. 10. She thought the Tory right had no candidate to replace her with and the Tory left would be happy because there had been a Cameroon restoration. So yes, it was a humiliation – but one that was supposed to keep her in post. The wheels feel off yesterday, and Truss had to accept that her game was over Could it last? Earlier this week I spoke to several MPs who could see Truss surviving

The Liz Truss survival plan

At the first stage of the Conservative leadership race, when Liz Truss was trying to win MPs’ support, her message was that she was the one who could ‘unite the right’. Now, her plan to survive in No. 10 relies on dividing the Tory left. Regicide is a messy business. ‘It’s very hard to push her out,’ says a former cabinet minister. ‘We would need to change the rules. It could be seen as an establishment stitch-up. I think she needs to do the right thing and resign.’ Everyone in the Tory party agrees that there needs to be a unity candidate when Truss goes, but there is absolutely no

Charles Moore

Has a Conservative government got any power at all?

In the House of Commons on Monday, someone accused Liz Truss’s government of being ‘in office but not in power’. By chance, I was sitting in the peers’ gallery immediately behind the author of that famous phrase, Norman Lamont, who applied it to John Major’s administration in his resignation statement as chancellor in 1993. It grows ever more apt. I sometimes wonder if modern politicians positively welcome this situation. It is a general feature of the structures of the EU, where no elected politician has real power, but none seems to mind. Much of the joy of ‘compassionate’ Conservatives at the trouncing of Truss appears to derive from the proof

Rod Liddle

Nobody wanted Liz Truss

One of the most important ingredients in the oil used to anoint King Charles during his coronation is becoming a bit of an issue – and it may give us a signal as to what sort of monarchy lies in wait for us. Aside from cinnamon and ambergris, the oil also includes musk from the Ethiopian civet cat, obtained through what protestors suggest is a cruel process. The oversized weasel is constrained in a tight cage made of twigs and its bum is forced out of a hole at the back of a cage, whereupon skilled Ethiopian musk gatherers squeeze the animal’s perineal glands, reaping a rich harvest of noisome

Divided they fall: can the Tories save themselves?

Seldom has support for a government fallen so far, so fast. Polls show that 24 per cent of the public would vote for the Conservatives if there was an election now, vs 52 per cent for Labour: figures that make 1997 look like a good result for the Tories. This is not just a one-off rogue poll, but the sustained average of six. It reflects what Tory MPs hear from voters appalled at the disgraceful shambles of the past few weeks. It won’t be forgotten in a hurry. This magazine gave its verdict on the Liz Truss agenda in August: ‘To attempt reform without a proper plan is to guarantee

How long can Liz Truss hold on?

How much trouble is Liz Truss in? Just six weeks into her premiership, the Prime Minister’s economic plans are in tatters after she axed her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, reversed on her campaign pledge to scrap the scheduled corporation tax hike and brought in Jeremy Hunt as his successor. Now Hunt is calling the shots on the economy and he plans to reverse much of what the Truss government have announced so far, with tax rises and public spending cuts to come. Truss’s own supporters are privately asking what the point of her government is now. Unsurprisingly, this has all led to talk among Tory MPs that the end is nigh.

Five ways the Liz Truss saga could end

How does this end? That’s the question being asked by Tory MPs as Liz Truss’s government finds itself in turmoil once again. The Prime Minister’s decision to axe her chancellor and U-turn on a plan to ditch the corporation tax has only added to nerves in the Conservative party as to how sustainable the current situation is in. It’s clear that different wings of the party are incredibly unhappy with the current leadership. Yet Truss is technically safe from challenge for another year. What’s more, it’s not clear who exactly the party could agree on. Earlier this month, I wrote for the magazine on the scenarios being war-gamed by ministers,

Isabel Hardman

‘She’s just so bad at everything’: Tory MPs turn on Truss

Liz Truss’s Downing Street press conference has made everything worse, as far as Tory MPs are concerned. As soon as it was over, a number of backbenchers who had supported Truss for leader were locked into a call with Thérèse Coffey, the PM’s closest friend in Parliament and the Deputy Prime Minister. Those on the call said it was ‘like a wake,’ with even Coffey sounding ‘broken.’ ‘You could see the loss in her eyes,’ said one. Coffey reiterated the points the Prime Minister had made in No. 10, before taking questions. The ‘wake’ line is one you hear a lot at the moment. A number of MPs who went

The preventable death of the Scottish Tories

The Ruth Davidson era is over. It has been three years since the now Baroness Davidson stood down as leader of the Scottish Tories, but the last decade of opposition politics has belonged to her. It was Davidson who parlayed opposition to independence into tactical support for the Scottish Conservatives, convincing a section of older, blue-collar Labour voters to lend her their vote to stop the SNP. In doing so, she took the Tories from third to second place at Holyrood and, in 2017, to their biggest win in a general election since the days of Margaret Thatcher. What she failed to do was make the Scottish Tories a viable

James Forsyth

Crash course: how the Truss revolution came off the road

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng wanted to shake things up. They were radicals in a hurry, keen to show that Britain was under new economic management. Theirs would be an unapologetic pro-growth agenda: no more genuflection in front of failed orthodoxies, no more being paralysed by fear or criticism. As a sign of this, they abolished the 45p tax rate for the highest earners: a move that many Tories longed to make, but did not dare. It seemed Truss and Kwarteng would leap in where other Conservatives feared to tread. This lasted just ten days. As the tax plan was reversed and No. 10 licked its wounds, there was much

Portrait of the week: Tory party conference, gas supply warning and Denmark’s royals stripped of titles

Home Liz Truss, the Prime Minister, came up with a message for the Conservative party conference: ‘Whenever there is change, there is disruption… Everyone will benefit from the result.’ Her words followed a decision not to abolish, after all, the 45p rate of tax, paid by people who earn more than £150,000 a year. Backbench Conservative MPs had let it be known they would not vote for it. ‘The difference this makes really is trivial,’ said Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank. But the pound rose and the government was able to borrow a little more cheaply. Kwasi Kwarteng, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, told the

Katy Balls

Could it be Rishi by Christmas?

What was supposed to be a recovery moment for the Conservatives instead looks like a collective nervous breakdown. The Prime Minister has been forced to U-turn on her flagship tax plan. Her cabinet is in open rebellion. Tory party conference resembled a civil war. The latest polling suggests the party is heading for electoral extinction. And that’s after just four weeks of Liz Truss’s premiership. ‘I know we have had a series of crises but this one really feels like the worst yet,’ says one seasoned government aide. Some Truss supporters are showing signs of buyer’s remorse. ‘I didn’t know it would be this bad,’ says one MP who backed

Give Liz Truss a chance

Conservative governments have a habit of self-destructing: they die not in battle with political enemies but as a result of vicious infighting. It’s been less than three years since Boris Johnson’s triumphant 80-seat election victory, which seemed at the time to come close to condemning Labour to oblivion. Yet this week in Birmingham it was the Conservatives who have looked doomed, posing a far greater threat to each other than to Keir Starmer. In her conference speech, Liz Truss laid out a confident and coherent agenda. She is correct about the need to harness the power of free enterprise to kickstart growth, but she failed to prepare the ground for

What did Kwarteng say to the free market think tanks?

When Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng entered Downing Street, laser focus was not only applied to them, but also to the free market think tanks they had worked with over the years. This evening, Kwarteng paid a visit to two of them, as the Institute of Economic Affairs and The Taxpayers’ Alliance hosted the Chancellor at Conservative party conference for one-on-one conversations. Similar to his speech yesterday, Kwarteng used the opportunity to try to take some heat out of his mini-Budget. When asked if market reaction was part of the Treasury orthodoxy he and Truss had been taking aim against for weeks, he shook his head and pointed to the

What does Michael Gove want?

Tory conference has long been more stage-managed than other party meetings, but this year the official speeches from ministers have also been condensed into a very strange late afternoon slot lasting just two hours. The rest of the time is free for fringe meetings and plotting. Ministers and their aides have been told they have to keep their addresses to the hall announcement-lite, which makes those two hours feel largely pointless. Kwasi Kwarteng didn’t announce very much at all, even though his two U-turns have dominated the day’s agenda. This morning, the Chancellor dropped the plan to abolish the 45p rate of tax, and this evening it has emerged that

Isabel Hardman

Are the Tories in the business of managing decline?

Kwasi Kwarteng’s speech to Tory conference was an attempt to get his party back behind him after his U-turn on the 45p rate. He acknowledged it a number of times in his address, opening by saying it had been a ‘tough’ day, but insisted that the government needed to keep going. The members in the hall laughed as he referred to ‘a little turbulence’ and insisted that ‘we are listening’. After the U-turn, it was quite audacious to insist the government had an ‘iron commitment’ to anything After the U-turn, it was quite audacious to insist the government had an ‘iron commitment’ to anything, but his commitment today was to

Kate Andrews

Everything’s under control, says Kwasi

You could tell Kwasi Kwarteng was aware of his words and tone as he delivered his Conservative party conference speech to a hall full of Tory members this afternoon. It was a delicate set of circumstances, with him having had to U-turn on his plan to abolish the 45p tax rate only this morning. But perhaps more importantly he learned a lesson after the mini-Budget: his words can move markets. And he’d be loathe to push them into freefall again. Kwarteng worked hard to compensate for the total lack of lip-service he had paid to fiscal discipline in his mini-Budget. He praised the UK’s status of having the ‘second lowest

Why Kwarteng’s next fiscal event will have to be brought forward

In a tetchy performance on The Andrew Neil Show, Tory party chair Jake Berry repeatedly insisted that everyone would have to wait until the Chancellor’s unveiling of his fiscal plan on 23 November to find out whether or not there would be spending cuts and when the government believes it will hit its 2.5 per cent growth target. Berry’s performance, which involved repeatedly trying to answer a different question to the one he was asked, made it even harder to believe that this line can hold. If every minister interviewed for the next six weeks sounded like Berry did just now, then it would be a disaster for the government. The sensible

Nick Cohen

The silence that reveals everything about Liz Truss

The moorings that tie the rulers to the ruled are breaking in the UK. You can hear them snapping during the Prime Minister’s silences. On Sunday morning, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg asked Liz Truss a question any democratic leader should be able to answer. Truss and her Chancellor’s folly had sent yields on ten-year guilts up to 4.3 per cent. It had forced the Bank of England to announce an emergency £65 billion bond-buying programme. It had threatened pensions and the finances of mortgage holders. ‘How many people voted for your plan?’ asked Kuenssberg. Silence. A silence long enough for viewers to believe that concerns of democratic legitimacy had not